Explore Akira’s Neo Tokyo through rare artworks by the legendary anime’s art directors

A new exhibition brings together 59 original artworks including production backgrounds and concept designs used to lay the scene for the iconic 1988 film.

Date
8 June 2022

Arguably the most influential anime film of all time, 1988 film Akira brought the world depicted in the eponymous Japanese cyberpunk manga series to the screen, and has been a go-to source of inspiration for many a sci-fi film and TV show (not least the current series of Stranger Things) ever since. In particular, the scenery of futuristic mega city Neo Tokyo has been referenced by countless creatives, and now a new exhibition is bringing to light some of the intricate and imaginative drawings that first conceived this metropolis. Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo at Berlin’s Tchoban Foundation will feature 59 original artworks used to build the fictional home of Tetsuo, Kaneda and their gang.

Thanks to the curator’s exclusive access to the studio archives of the artists involved in Akira’s production, on display will be background artwork, layout drawings, concept designs and imageboards instrumental in crafting the vision of Neo Tokyo’s unique cityscape. Many of the artworks have never been presented in an exhibition, and only very few of them have ever been published – amazing not just because of its worldwide renown, but also the ton of press coverage Akira received in 2019, the year in which it was originally set.

Above

Toshiharu Mizutani: Akira, cut no. 182, final production background. Based on the graphic novel Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, first published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd (Copyright © 1988 Mash·Room / Akira Committee)

There are works on show by Toshiharu Mizutani, who served as the production’s art director, and his colleagues Katsufumi Hariu, Norihiro Hiraki, Shinji Kimura, Satoshi Kuroda, Hiromasa Ogura, Hiroshi Ohno, Hajime Soga, Tsutomu Uchida and Takashi Watabe. It is curated by Stefan Riekeles from the Riekeles Gallery in collaboration with the Tchoban Foundation’s Nadejda Bartels and Hiroko Kimura-Myokam of Eizo Workshop G.K. (Japan).

Akira – The Architecture of Neo Tokyo is on display at the Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin until 4 September 2022. After that, Stefan hopes to bring the show to London.

GalleryAll images are based on the graphic novel Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, first published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd (Copyright © 1988 Mash·Room / Akira Committee)

Above

Hiroshi Ohno: Akira, cut. no. 2211, final production background

Above

Akira, cut no. 2094, artist unknown, final production background

Above

Hiroshi Ohno: Akira, cut no. 207, final production background

Above

Tsutomu Uchida: Akira, cut no. 140, final production background

Hero Header

Toshiharu Mizutani: Akira, cut no. 1, final production background. Based on the graphic novel Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, first published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd (Copyright © 1988 Mash·Room / Akira Committee)

Share Article

About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny (she/her) is online editor of It’s Nice That, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. She was previously news editor for five years. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.